A global day of "Rage for Aleppo" was held Oct. 1, with protests against the siege and bombardment of the city reported from more than 30 cities across the world. Some Muslim counties had their demonstrations a day early, after the Friday prayer. (Iran-Arab Spring, Oct. 1) The joint Assad-Putin campaign of aerial terror on Aleppo remains unrelenting, and continues to make hospitals a sepcial target. Regime or Russian warplanes bombed two hospitals in the besieged rebel-held sector of Aleppo on Sept. 28. Two patients were killed in one of the strikes, and six residents queuing for bread near the hospital were killed in the other. Only about 30 doctors are believed to be left inside the besieged zone, overwhelmed by hundreds of casualties every day. Some 250,000 people are trapped in the city, with food running out. On Sept. 30, another water station in opposition-held eastern Aleppo was hit in air-strikes, leaving still more residents without water. (MEM, Spet. 30; Reuters, Sept. 29)
On the day of the protest mobilization, Secretary of State John Kerry pathetically said that the US is close to suspending talks with Russia on a ceasefire in Syria. "We are on the verge of suspending the discussion because it is irrational in the context of the kind of bombing taking place to be sitting there trying to take things seriously," Kerry told a press conference in DC. "It is one of those moments where we are going to have to pursue other alternatives."
Pretty perverse to say this just at the one-year mark of the start of the Russian intervention—as if this "kind of bombing" were something new. The AirWars.org website puts the number of non-combatants killed in Russian air-strikes alone (excluding regime strikes) over the past year at between 6,400 and 8,000—up from a high of about 5,700 just two months ago.
Russian news agencies meanwhile quoted a Foreign Ministry representative saying that any US intervention against Assad regime forces "will lead to terrible, tectonic consequences not only on the territory of this country but also in the region on the whole." The statement said regime change in Syria would create a vacuum that would be "quickly filled" by "terrorists of all stripes." (AP, Reuters, Oct. 1)
The irony here would almost be hilarious if it weren't all so grim. Of course Assad regime forces are responsible for far more civilian deaths than ISIS or any other "terrorist" outfit operating in Syria.
But the big majority of "anti-war" (sic) forces in the West refuse to get it. At the New York "Rage for Aleppo" rally, held at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza across from the United Nations, a small contingent of counter-protesters—identified by this blogger as associated with the Workers World Party or its front group International Action Center—handed out flyers accusing the Free Syrian Army of collaborating with ISIS. This of course perfectly aligns with the Assad-Moscow propaganda trick of simply conflating all rebel forces with ISIS—even though the FSA is actually fighting ISIS.
Last week, Workers World held their own pro-Assad rally outside the UN, under the predictably bogus slogan "US-NATO, hands off Syria!" This is the typical defense of the "anti-war" (sic) pseudo-leftsts who rally around the regime: they are only opposing US intervention. And their failure to protest Russian and regime atrocities is because it isn't their fight as Americans. But this lie is exposed by their parroting of the cynical regime propaganda and spreading calumnies against the pro-democratic forces in Syria.
As the horror mounts in Aleppo, this masquerade is becoming ever more untenable. As we have said before: The fact that we have a greater responsibility to protest the crimes of our own government does not mean we have to maintain hermetic silence on those of other governments. The only thing that accomplishes is squandering our moral credibility. This is where the Western left perennially falls flat on its face. Worse yet, of course, is the growing segment of the "anti-war" left that actively supports atrocities carried out by the "other" side.
But what makes it even more illogical is the objective reality that the US is now fighting on the side of Assad. Washington has been constraining the rebel forces from fighting the regime as the price of continued aid—insisting they only fight ISIS and Nusra Front. Numerous statements from Kerry and other administration officials make abundantly clear that they are actually seeking to reconsolidate Assad rule in the name of "stability"—no matter how oppressive of the Syrian people.
The bogus "ceasefire" that actually called for joint US-Russian military action in Syria—making Washington an explicit partner in Assad's genocide—may well have held if Russian-regime forces hadn't been so indiscrete as to bomb a UN aid convoy last week. (Bombing the people the aid was intended for was, apparently, quite acceptable.) If the situation is at this moment spinning back toward superpower confrontation, this is despite the best efforts of Obama to cooperate with the Russians to prop up the regime.
All of Washington's scolding of Assad and Putin is increasingly just for show. That's why it's called a Great Game.